The RW Takeaway: After a four-month evaluation of the Tempo Plus, our writer provides an in-depth analysis of its features and whether it’s worth the expense.
Price: Starting at $2,495, plus $39/month membership fee (with a 1-year commitment)
Oh, strength training. It’s the thing most runners have a love-hate relationship with—including myself. I know it’s needed to nike acg headsock women boots size, yet it’s not, well, running. So it’s a lot harder to drum up the motivation to do it consistently.
But when the coronavirus pandemic happened—forcing us all to stay home for awhile—and I had ACL surgery luminous pink nike air max girls shoes sale online treadmill that would feel good on my knees, but it was time to finally nike revolution sky high cheap shoes amazon size.
Enter the wave of smart at-home machines. While companies have tried for years to break through the runners’ aversion to strength training, these smart devices have arguably come the closest to finding true success. Gone are the days of repetitive online videos and lackluster trainers. Now, systems like Mirror and Tonal have recruited elite instructors to build strong programming, lead live and on-demand classes, and form communities.
When it came time to put one to the test, I opted for Tempo. Touting 3D sensors that analyze form and artificial intelligence to count my reps, track metrics over time, and offer weight and programming progressions, it sounded like the just-right amount of handholding I needed to keep me committed while catering to my ultimate goal of getting back to running.
After putting my Tempo Plus through the paces for over four months, here’s what you need to know about it—including whether it’s really worth the price tag for runners.
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Simply put, Tempo is a smart home gym featuring live and on-demand classes, as well as series programming (think: 6-Week Off Season Athlete or 2-Week Intro to Strength). While the majority are centered around strength training, you can find a range of other class options—everything from HIIT and boxing to yoga and mobility work is available. There are also a variety of classes—over 1,150, with nearly 30 added each week—based on skill level, categorized by the brand into beginner, intermediate, and expert.
As for the device itself, Tempo is unique in that it doesn’t promote an ability to be wall-mounted. Instead, the sleek design stands on its own as a 72x26x16-inch easel-shaped tower, with a storage cabinet on the front for weight plates and collars, plus back hooks to hang dumbbells and a barbell. (There’s even room between the floor and cabinet to stash a foam roller, yoga mat, or additional weight plates.) The bundle you choose—Starter, Plus, or Pro—determines how much equipment comes with your Tempo.
Activating the Tempo and creating a customized profile was super quick and easy—I simply had to put in some basic physical stats, tell them what equipment I have, and outline my fitness goals and weight training experience. It also asked for my preferred workout days; while this was nice in theory, my schedule changes weekly, so setting those days upfront wasn’t realistic. I also didn’t receive notifications encouraging me to log on when I didn’t workout on those pre-selected days (unless I didn’t exercise for a full week, at which time I got a “get back in the game!”-style email).
Given the struggle many have had with finding weights both in-stores and online, one of the big advantages of Tempo is that it is an all-in-one strength training package. The Starter bundle comes with the basics—a set of dumbbells with 75 pounds of interchangeable weight plates (and, of course, the Tempo itself).
Those wanting a more tricked-out space can upgrade to the Plus and Pro bundles—you get a folding bench, barbell, heart rate monitor, foam roller, yoga mat, and 50 pounds of extra weights for the Plus; tack on a folding squat rack, kettlebell system, 90 more pounds of extra weights, and more storage for all those plates with the Pro.
While NordicTrack’s comparable system, Vault, offers dumbbell pairs in five-pound increments, Tempo provides removable plates you can swap in and out. Because they go as small as 1.25-pounds, this makes it easy to customize how much you’re lifting. (The bars were also comfortable, regardless of whether I was doing presses, deadlifts, or back squats.)
The downside is wasted time: trainers do give time to change out plates if different weight recommendations are programmed, and you can even pause the workout if you can’t swap fast enough. But all the plate-changing proved to be a bit of a hassle, as the plates didn’t slide off the bars as smoothly as I’d like. At times, I found myself wishing I just had a different set of dumbbells I could quickly grab and keep going.
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One of my biggest draws to Tempo was its automatic rep-counting and real-time form feedback. I loved that I’d know if I was leaning back too far during, say, a bicep curl or not pushing forward enough in my overhead press.
No special equipment is needed to utilize these features—I simply had to stand about eight feet away from the screen. Whenever I did flub up my form, the unit noted it on-screen and told me when it was fixed. (Points for instant gratification.) If I didn’t get up to snuff before the set was over, it gave notes on how to improve for the next go-round. During a live class, the coaches are able to see form in real time, so they often provided adjustments the whole class could apply.
That said, over my four months of testing, I did find the form corrections were limited. Given my ACL surgery, I knew favoring my surgical leg during squats was something to watch. And while the mirror-like surface allowed me to track my form, not once did I get a correction on leaning too far to one side—even when I knew I was doing it. Having 3D sensors that can pick up these nuanced adjustments would make the Tempo truly more suitable for strength training newbies who may not know when they’re compromising form.
Tempo also remembers how much you lift at each session and makes weight suggestions at the start of each exercise. After a set, it even asks if it was too heavy, too light, or just right. But it could still use a little more finessing. The recommendations are definitely close enough in range for experienced athletes, but for runners who are just forming a relationship with weights, it’s important to not treat them as the end all, be all. Oftentimes I needed to adjust (higher for lower body work, lower for upper), and while the higher recommendations served as good motivation to see if I could get through the set at that weight, doing that requires an understanding of proper form to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for potential injury.
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As of now, there are seven coaches to choose from and all are credentialed through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), so you’re in knowledgeable hands. Each offers their own unique style of training and motivation, so it’s best to test ‘em all to see whose style fits yours best. My personal faves: Melissa Boyd and Cole Charlton. Both had thoughtful programming, were very personable, and leaned into a fun, positive coaching style that had an “I got you” vibe.
Where Tempo fell short: their Tempo Games. Inspired by the Olympics, seven professional athletes led classes ranging from 15 to 30 minutes at a variety of skill levels. The overarching idea isn’t unique—other brands like Peloton and NordicTrack also recruited Olympians. But when compared to the regular Tempo trainers’ programming, the few Olympian-led classes I took felt disjointed, often lacked consistency in reps or rounds, and had little discussion around form or potential modifications a user might need. If anything, these workouts proved the value of having an actual professional trainer leading the pack. Next time, I’d recommend Tempo have the Olympians take the classes, telling their unique stories along the way, while letting the pro instructors lead next to them.
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There’s no getting around it: with prices starting at $2,495 and climbing up to $3,995, the Tempo is expensive for the average everyday athlete. Tack on a required $39/month membership and one-year commitment for new customers, and it’s a pretty penny you’re investing into a fitness regimen.
But it’s important to keep in mind that the monthly membership covers your entire household and there’s no need to shop for additional equipment. (There are also monthly financing options available.) Plus, the brand says you’re theoretically saving money. According to their website, if all the equipment in the Starter bundle were purchased separately, you’d pony up a whopping $3,200, as opposed to their packaged price of $2,495.
Bottom line: For runners who are ready to get serious about incorporating consistent strength training into their routine, the Tempo is effective, high-quality, and when utilized regularly—especially by more than one family member—has the potential to most certainly be worth its value. And hey, it may just be the catalyst that finally gets you to commit and ultimately reap bigger running rewards.